How to password protect any folder on a Mac computer to keep your files private

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  • Knowing how to password protect a folder on your Mac can help keep your files safe and secure.
  • To create a protected folder on your Mac, you can turn your folder into a disc image, which is easier than it sounds. 
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The more levels of security you have on your Mac, the safer your files will be. This is particularly true if you allow multiple people to use your computer. For your most sensitive files, it’s a good idea to create a password-protected folder, for an extra layer of protection. 

If you right-click on a folder, password protection isn’t one of the menu options. But you can easily create a protected folder on your Mac with these steps. 

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How to password protect a folder on Mac

Turn your folder into a .dmg file to protect sensitive files

To create a password-protected folder on your Mac, follow these steps to turn your folder into a disc image file (.dmg). 

1. If you haven’t done so already, create the folder you want to encrypt and add your sensitive files to it.

2. Open the Applications folder on your Mac.

3. Open the Utilities folder.

4. Open the Disk Utility app.

Utilities folder contents

5. From the menu at the top of your screen, to the right of the Apple icon, choose File.

6. From the File menu, choose New Image.

7. From the New Image menu, choose Image from Folder.

Disk Image menus

8. From the folder window that opens, choose the file you want to add a password to and click Choose. You can rename the file once you choose it, if you want.

9. In the window that has popped up, there are menus for Encryption and Image Format. You’ll need to change both of these from the default choices. 

10. Click the menu next to Encryption and choose “128-bit AES encryption (recommended).” If you want a higher level of security, choose “256-bit AES encryption (more secure, but slower).”

Choose Encryption from menu

11. Once you have chosen your encryption level, a window will pop up that asks you to set your password. Click the key icon to the right of the password to see how secure your password is. In this popup, you can also choose to have a password created for you. 

12. Enter the password twice and click Choose to set your password. Make sure you remember or make a note of your password. Otherwise, you won’t have access to your files either. 

Window that pops up when you click the key icon

13. Click the menu next to Image Format and choose “read/write.”

14. Click Save. It will take a few moments for the app to create a disk image of your folder. Click Done to exit.

15. Your original folder still lives on your Mac, unencrypted. Once you are sure you can access the disk image and the files in it, delete your original folder.

How to use a password protected folder

Your password-protected folder will appear in your Finder window as a .dmg file. Double click to open it. You will be prompted to enter your password when you open the file.

The disk image of your folder will appear under Locations on the left side of your Finder window after you open it with your password. 

Click on the folder name in the Locations menu to view the files in it. You can drag files into the .dmg folder the way you would a regular folder. You can also save new files into this folder.

Once you enter your password, the disk image remains open and in the Locations menu until you eject it. Right click on the folder and choose “Eject [folder name]” to close your folder. It will disappear from the Locations menu.

Window that appears when you right click the protected folder

Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech:

  • How to set your browser’s homepage on a Mac, with instructions for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox

  • How to use Parental Controls to block websites on a Mac to help protect children or to increase productivity

  • How to set a password on your Mac computer and lock it, in 5 different ways

  • How to take a screenshot on a Mac, and find that screenshot on your computer later

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